Olympus AZ-1 Zoom Review
I’ve been really determined to go back to my roots with photography and rekindle the wonderment I had when everything was new, so I’ve been picking up and shooting on a few old 35mm film cameras. I picked up this Olympus AZ-1 Zoom from eBay for £3.99. I had no idea whether it was any good, or even if it would actually work, but for that price it was worth the risk.
First retailing in 1987, the AZ-1 Zoom was Olympus’ first compact camera to feature an integrated zoom lens. For a point and shoot camera, it was pretty advanced, with a macro mode, continuous shooting, and a viewfinder that zoomed along with the lens.
The first thing that surprised me when I received my Olympus AZ-1 was the sheer size of the thing. This is not a small point and shoot camera. It’s literally a brick, especially by todays standards. On the plus side, it was in great condition, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s had minimal use in it’s life… probably due to it’s size.
The first hurdle, however, was that this takes a weird battery. Thankfully, they’re widely available on Amazon, so my Prime membership came in handy, and the following day I received a CR-P2 and slotted it in. I turned it on and to my delight, it all seemed to work! Yay! There’s always a risk with buying old cameras of eBay that they might not work, but that wasn’t the case this time thankfully.
I’ve said it already, but this thing is massive! Like surprisingly big for a point and shoot camera, but that’s not the thing that shocked me the most… The zoom lens on this thing is insanely loud! Really loud! Stupidly loud! It’s actually quite comical really, but I guess being that this was Olympus’ first point and shoot zoom, the technology was in it’s infancy. With a maximum aperture of f/6.7 at the telephoto end, I figured I probably wouldn’t want to be zooming all that much anyway.
Because of it’s size, all the controls are pretty chunky and spaced out. Compared to how fiddly the buttons can be on modern cameras, the AZ-1 Zoom almost looks like if could be designed for a child to use.
Putting a roll of expired Agfa Vista 200 film in the camera, I was intrigued to see what kinds of images would result. Below are a few examples from both London and Milan. In good light, the camera performs really well. It’s fully automatic, so the metering works perfectly in the sunshine. When the light starts to diminish in the cold wet London winters is where the AZ-1 begins to struggle, but not necessarily in a horrible way.
I only shot a single roll in the Olympus AZ-1, and probably won’t choose to use it again. Some of the images are pretty decent, but due to the cumbersome nature of the camera, and it’s narrow apertures, there are other point and shoot cameras I would rather pick up from my collection.